& occasionally about other things, too...

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Arab Voices

Guest post by 

Abdulrahman Matar

 In April 2019, the Syrian Mediterranean Cultural Forum organized a new poetry evening, ‘Arab Voices,’ at the public library in Aurora (Ontario, Canada) as a part of its annual program.

Many Arab writers and artists living in Canada participated in the program and included poets Rula Kahil (Lebanon) Naeim Helene (Syria) Suzan Sami Jamil (Iraq) Younes Al-Atari (Palestine) Abdulrahman Matar (Syria), Jacqueline Hanna Salam (Syria).

The Syrian artist Ismael Abu Fakher also played the Bezek (solo, accompanied by poetry readings). A short film ‘The 11th Commandment’ was presented by Mowafaq Katt (Syria).

In addition, Abdul Rahman Matar and Mowafaq Katt created a calligraphy of Arabic characters and dedicated it to the people of Aurora.

The readings were conducted in both Arabic and English, with the technical assistance of the library team which included the projection of texts on a large screen at the Aurora Public Library.

In attendance were a number of distinguished individuals from the Canadian public life including the Mayor of Aurora, the local Member of Parliament, Members of PEN Canada.
Arab Voices is a cultural project aimed at introducing the Canadian public to the contemporary cultural of Arab creators living in Canada.


The Syrian Mediterranean Cultural Forum has held cultural evenings in Istanbul and Toronto since February 2014.

The founder of the forum is Syrian writer, poet and novelist Abdulrahman Matar, who has lived in Canada for the last four years, having come here as a refugee.

Syrian Mediterranean Cultural Forum is a Syrian cultural forum, NGO, Non-profit, currently located in Toronto – Canada. The purpose of the Forum is to enable a cultural expression of Arabic culture especially in literature and the arts. 

Specifically, through hosting a variety of activities, which bring out, and express the general cultural sides of life.

The forum aims to open up to different cultures, and to share ideas and activities, and it sees the important diversity behind that. It also aims to be a stage of cultural fertilization and debates. Also to form a support for the Syrian refugees who are merging with the new societies that are receiving them.

This forum was founded in, March 2013, in Istanbul. It emerged from the Mediterranean studies center (which was founded in Damascus, 2012) where it also continued its activities in 2013, in Istanbul, where it’s officially registered. It had organized many cultural events, like poetry and musical events. 

Many of the Syrian poets, writers, and novelists, had attended and been part of.

The Forum's Vision
  • To spread the culture of debate, civil work, peace, and tolerance.

The goals of the forum

  • To express the different sides of the Syrian, Arab, and global literature, and the art.
  • To be a bridge of cultural connection between the motherland and the residents in other foreign countries.
  • Contributing to the process of merging people within new societies.
  • To connect and exchange with other cultures, through expressing the importance of diversity, while defining, and recognizing it.
  • Support and encourage young talents.

  • Horizon from perfume Soul: poetry and music - Istanbul / Feb 24, 2014.
  • Poetry readings with music: Istanbul / Jan 25, 2015
  • Poet Nuri Al-Jarrah: Poetry readings and book signing / Istanbul, April 11, 2015
  • A solidarity stand with the Syrian detainees: Toronto Sep 08, 2018.
  • Arabic Voices in Toronto: Poetry Reading / Heart House – U OF T- Toronto Nov 03, 2018
  • Arabic Voices:  Poetry - Music - Movie - Arabic Calligraphy Sketch / Aurora Public Library Apr 06, 2019


About Abdulrahman Matar

Writer and journalist from Syria, resident in Canada since 2015, poet and novelist. He worked in the culture field and media in Syria and Libya. He is a researcher in Euro-Mediterranean relations, human rights, and terrorism issues, and he is an activist on freedoms and civil society issues. Founder and Director of the Mediterranean Studies Center & Syrian-Mediterranean Cultural Forum - SEEGULL.

He continues to publish the research and articles in the Arabic press.

He has published five books: Blood is not red (common stories 1983), Rain leaves - Poetry 1999 , The evening Rose - Poetry 2000, Mediterranean Studies 2001,Wild Mirage - Novel 2015,and a some manuscripts.

His books have been well received, and dozens of articles have been written about them in various Arab media.

He was arrested five times and spent nearly ten years in prison as a result of his writings, freedom of expression, and his positions on issues of freedom and human rights.

His novel "Wild Mirage" deals with his experiences in political imprisonment, torture, deprivation, abuse and the oppression. Matar is a Membership of Syrian writers' Association, and the Association of Journalists.

Membership of "Writer in Exile" / PEN Canada.

Membership of Writers’ Union of Canada.

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